Two years ago, Glenn Walker didn’t believe he could make money selling Real Change. A vendor talked him into trying it.
“He told me to try to sell a newspaper at Whole Foods, and I told him, ‘No, I’m not doing that. It ain’t me.’
“‘Come on, please, hold one paper up.’
“I say, ‘I’ll hold one up five minutes and [then] I’m out of here.’ A car came up beside me and handed $20 out of the window.
“‘You must pay the man to do that!’
“‘I don’t know that man!’
“I came down here and signed up.”
That was two years ago in October.
Glenn grew up on Chicago’s South Side, and says the city’s not as bad as its reputation. “Everybody was real friendly. Never had no trouble. Maybe it don’t see me!”
His older brother got his family out to Seattle in the late 1970s. He told them they were moving to Washington. Glenn thought he meant Washington, D.C. “We get here, I look out and say, ‘Where’s the White House?’”
He liked it, though. “Seattle is something to look at, all this water, mountains with snow on top, everything green. Used to be rain, rain, rain. You keep your rain gear with you 24 hours a day.”
Pointing to how dry it was last summer, Glenn thinks the climate must have changed.
In the ’90s, Glenn lived in Denver and then in New York with his mother and sister. But when his mother died in 2003, his brother invited him to come back to Seattle. Glenn worked at QFC and Laborworks and did odd jobs. He still earns part of his living that way.
The area’s Main Streets have played major roles in his life. “I used to live on Main Street in Bellevue. We had to leave that place. It was too expensive — the rent went up from $1,300; now it’s $3,000.” He had a woman friend who lived on Main Street in Seattle. When he was living outside, he and his buddy slept under I-5 near Main Street. And, of course, the Real Change office is on Main Street: “A main Main Street that I found to be the best of all!”
Glenn sells in Bellevue, Bainbridge Island, Mercer Island, the Central District, Columbia City, and Kirkland, as well as at stadiums during ball games. He remembers fondly when Real Change ran an article about an exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the chief curator came out and bought 20 papers from him.
He sees selling Real Change as a vocation. “I try to get the news out to people who understand. I take my newspapers with me all the time. When I get off Laborworks, I sell papers on the side. I’ve sold newspapers at 2 o’clock in the morning.” He plays classical music from 98.1 KING-FM while he sells. “People come to me and say, ‘We love Real Change newspaper — and the music you play!’”
Glenn is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full December 27 issue.